Provost's Fund: Projects Spanning Multiple Priorities

January 18, 2023

The LSU Provost’s Fund for Innovation in Research has announced $1.1 million in faculty research grants to 33 projects, including several spanning multiple priority areas, in support of sustained strategic priorities for the university and for Louisiana.

Launched in 2022, the Provost’s Fund supports interdisciplinary research in five priority areas, also known as the LSU Pentagon, which includes agriculture, biomedicine and biotechnology, coast and environment, defense and cybersecurity and energy.

Spanning Our Priorities

priorities pentagonWhile some of the newly funded projects fall within a single priority area, several span multiple priority areas. The strength of the Scholarship First Agenda lies not only in how LSU can drive research and innovation in agriculture, biomedicine, coast, defense and energy, but combine these areas in interesting ways to solve pressing problems in Louisiana and around the globe. In total:

  • Five faculty identified their projects as agricultural;
  • 19 faculty identified their projects as biomedical;
  • 13 faculty identified their projects as coastal;
  • Eight faculty identified their projects as defense-related;
  • 10 faculty identified their projects as energy-related.

Below is a list of current Provost’s Fund faculty research awardees focusing on areas at the intersection of several priorities, as well as other research topics.

See more information about the fund and the full list of awardees.


  • Professor of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering Dimitris Nikitopoulos (LSU College of Engineering) will lead a team to establish an engineering or science and technology research center focused on the structural integrity of industrial hardware and materials (metals, alloys and fiber-reinforced polymer composites) to monitor, assess, predict and prevent their degradation or failure. The work has clear and critical applications in the ongoing energy transition.
  • Associate Professor of Petroleum Engineering Ipsita Gupta (LSU College of Engineering) will lead a team to investigate biogeochemical interactions to identify where and how hydrogen, a low-carbon alternative to oil and gas, may be stored securely in Louisiana’s subsurface formations.
  • Associate Professor of Pathobiological Sciences Weishan Huang (LSU School of Veterinary Medicine) will lead a team to streamline the development of synthetic, high-affinity molecular binders for rapid diagnosis and therapeutics for emerging infectious diseases.
  • Professor of Environmental Sciences Supratik Mukhopadhyay (LSU College of Coast & Environment) will lead a team to create an AI-guided framework for decoding the chemical and microbial indicators of permafrost degradation due to climate change.
  • Professor of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering Marcio de Queiroz (LSU College of Engineering) will lead a team to investigate if a non-invasive, feedback-modulated brain stimulation system can enhance human attention to critical tasks. The effort will serve as a catalyst for developing a neuromodulation research initiative to enhance human functioning in partnership with Our Lady of the Lake.
  • Professor of Construction Management Yimin Zhu (LSU College of Engineering) will lead a team to decode the causal relationship between human health and well-being on one side and stressors and relaxers in built environments on the other to improve planning, design, construction and operation of engineered space.
  • Assistant Professor of Architecture Fabio Capra-Ribeiro (LSU College of Art + Design) will lead a team to create a transdisciplinary collaborative center for research and design, the Caribbean Spatial Justice Lab, to connect scholars and communities working to advance coastal protection and restoration as well as sustainable energy and food production.
  • Professor of Renewable Natural Resources Terrence Tiersch (LSU College of Agriculture) will lead a team to optimize high-throughput, concentrated algae cryopreservation as algae increasingly are used as feedstocks for bioproducts, such as bioactive molecules, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, bioplastics, food, feed, fuels and more.
  • Assistant Professor of Chemistry Noemie Elgrishi (LSU College of Science) will develop molecular sponges that can remove so-called “forever chemicals” from drinking water and the environment.
  • Associate Professor of Geology & Geophysics Achim Herrmann (LSU College of Science) will learn from leading European experts on selenium isotope geochemistry how to measure selenium at low concentrations in the environment in Louisiana. Selenium is an essential trace element for all living organisms, but quickly becomes toxic at higher concentrations.
  • Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering Yen-Fang Su (LSU College of Engineering) will develop a remote sensing system for roads to assess the real-time condition (strain, stiffness, temperature and moisture) of concrete pavement to proactively provide maintenance plans.
  • Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Gregory Thom (LSU College of Science) will study how birds that parasitize army-ants can help us understand the evolutionary and genomic mechanisms behind species interactions.
  • Associate Professor of Geography & Anthropology Jill Trepanier (LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences) will establish 10 weather stations and organize a workshop with K-12 environmental science students and teachers to identify best practices for learning about extreme weather and climate science.
  • Associate Professor of Geology & Geophysics Suniti Karunatillake (LSU College of Science) will lead a team to develop a mission ("GANGOTRI") to Mars to investigate the geology and habitability of Martian glaciers. Alignment with NASA objectives places a Mars mission within LSU’s reach, following Assistant Professor of Physics Jeff Chancellor’s Tiger Eye 1 lunar payload. LSU’s 17-member team spans four NASA centers, a national lab, a European space center and two space technology companies.
  • Professor of Art Kelli Kelley (LSU College of Art + Design) will pursue a visual art project on emptiness, or nothingness, as a contemplation on the connections and interdependence of all beings and things during a time of isolation, divisiveness and impending demise of the natural world.
  • Professor of English Benjamin Kahan (LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences) will lead a team to establish the SEC’s first Second Book Institute to facilitate the advancement and promotion of associate professors in book-centered disciplines, where delayed promotion to full professor disproportionately affects women and racial minorities.
  • Professor of English Michelle Zerba (LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences) will lead a team to investigate the distinctive allure of mystery, and why people are so attracted to it. The Mystery Project Collaborative seeks to explore the meaning of mystery, how it has driven the human quest for knowledge and why it both enables and encumbers our curiosity about the world.